So, I am back in Baltimore after a short visit to my mother-land where I attended four weddings in the family, including two of different combinations- Iyengar+Telugu Brahmin and Telugu Vaishnavite+ Australian. All went on well, by the grace of God. Neither my brother- in- law who booked my ticket nor my daughter- in- law to whom it was sent for confirmation, did note that the date of travel coincided with the tenth anniversary of the dreaded 9/11/ when terrorist destroyed the World Trade Center in New york and along with it, the lives of several innocent men and women, leaving behind a trail of trauma and tragedy .’It is fine ‘ was my cool reply, when I was told about the date, ” everything comes for good; whatever has to happen, will happen’ . The date could have been changed but I was not for that. Family was not happy, They continued to murmur, till they got the message of my safe landing here. Some friends even looked at my face as if that the was last chance for them for that. Even if some thing bad had happened, stars could not be blamed as I never go by their name to commence any act, though many nights I spend looking at them, admiring their unparalleled twinkling and unalloyed smiles.While I was moving towards the check-in counter, the young man in charge, aggressively got up from his seat and advanced towards me. ” What harm have I done to him; he can’t be a reader of my stories ” I thought and moved a bit to a side, for safety. ‘ Don’t you remember me Uncle ?’ he smiled and held my hand.’ my elder brother was your son Ananth’s class mate”.’Yes, I do now recollect ; how do you do ? you are –?’ Several time, I make such remarks to cover my forgetfulness. Anyway, Naveen was so kind that he was waiting in the flight to guide me to my seat and place the cabin-luggage in the loft-box. I recollected some scenes in my story, “my maiden US visit ‘ while occupying the seat.Heathrew’s passenger magnitude and diversity always hold me in awe. It is the busiest airport in UK and the third busiest in the world in terms of passenger traffic, after Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, Georgia and Beijing Capital international airports. Among the staff many are Indians, speaking mostly Gujarati or Hindi.
Sitting next to me in the flight from Heathrew to Washington was an old Burmese lady who doesn’t know a single English word. The aircraft crew had to help her even in filling up the immigration and customs forms. In malls here I see many women who know only Gujarati. Language is not that indispensable, I feel some time. After all we did survive for many generations when language had not evolved. It helps a lot in developing understanding and improving the quality of life no doubt, but fighting on the basis of language difference and cutting each others throat is unnecessary. Man came first and not languages . Man came first and not caste or religions.
Thanks to my possessing a Green card, no questions were asked in the immigration counter and no finger -print or photos. My personal belongings were only a few sets of dress and books and the rest of 54 kg weight was made of contributions from my sambandhies and sisters for distribution for the children here.
‘Appa, why did you bring home these empty Champagne bottles ?” asked Meghana, while clearing my handbag .
“How small and air-tight are they ! I can carry my Navartna hair oil during the domestic travel’ I clarified holding the cute bottles.
‘Appa, you are awesome’ commented my son Sharath “like patti ammai, you too accumulate trash’
“‘You were also taught the same way, Sharath” I told him, stretching my aching back at the comfortable sofa in his drawing room.” But you did not learn the lesson, because the thinking in this country is not saving-conducive. The paper waste you produce in your house in a week will be more than enough to feed a small family, for a day, in India. Each tissue paper roll costs two or three dollars and how thoughtlessly you use and throw them? And why such powerful half-a dozen bulbs in the toilet?’
“Apart from champagne, you would have had your favorite red-wine too in the flight, I am sure” He commented.
“I am talking with full senses; switch off all extra lights ‘” I instructed while Sharath and Meghana held my hands and took me to my bed room.
‘Appa is too tired” commented Meghana.
‘Don’t worry, he will wake up at night and write a story’
Sept 12, 2011